One way a later start time benefits students and teachers is the opportunity teachers have to collaborate with one another in the morning, as their colleagues in elementary schools do. In the Iron County School District in Iowa, preparations have been underway for the start of the school year, and now a program is approved to have middle and high schools start later in the morning every Wednesday.
Teachers would normally be preparing for their students or teaching on Wednesday mornings. Instead, they will gather to share challenges that arise in classrooms, and work together to find solutions.
A pilot program was initiated at Parowan High School last year to measure the effect of a late start, and how the opportunity for teachers to collaborate would benefit students.
The Wednesday schedule at PHS began for teachers at 8 a.m. and lasted until 9:15 a.m. after which the school day would begin for students.
Roy Mathews, principal at PHS, said his school had a lot of success in implementing the late start program.
The program created the opportunity for PHS teachers to gather in structured professional learning communities to map out interventions for their students, look at their progress and improve curriculum planning.
“So the whole concept of the late start is centered around the student and doing what’s best for our students,” Mathews said.
Mathews said in the first semester of last year at PHS, 24 students had a grade point average below 2.0, but by the end of the second semester that number was cut down to less than half, with only 9 students in that GPA category. Additionally, the school improved its benchmark scores for students taking the American College Testing examination in comparison to the year before.
The students’ scores increased by 5 percent in math, 10 percent in science, 9 percent in reading and 9 percent in language arts.